The Seven Peace Keepers: Listening, Living, Fighting, and Healing through D’harawal Storytelling

Year: 2019

Author: Bodkin-Andrews, Gawaian

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Worldwide, Indigenous Storytelling and Storywork is becoming increasingly recognised as an effective tool for research, teaching, and critical inquiry (Archibald, 2009; Martin, 2008; Todd, 2018). An expanding base of Indigenous-led research has emerged to reveal a diversity of storytelling practices that have been recognised as effective tools for not only resisting dominant and oppressive colonial narratives, but also assisting in the transmission of traditional and contemporary Indigenous Knowledges and values that have been linked to stronger educational, social, health, and mental health outcomes (Lester-Smith, 2013; Linklater, 2014; Wexler, White, & Trainor, 2015). Such research effectively highlights the power of Indigenous Storytelling to not only teach, but to heal individuals and communities. Sadly, within the Australian context, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ancestral (Dreaming) Stories have been appropriated, minimised, and dismissed as mere child-like fables and myths, as non-Indigenous ‘authors’ have knowingly and unknowingly erased the multiple layers of meaning deeply embedded within them (Bodkin, 2013). This presentation will attempt to move beyond the tainted lens of colonial hegemony and its methods of ‘evidence creation’, and instead engage with the D’harawal Ancestral Story of the seven Yandel’mawa (peacekeepers) and their leader, the Yandel’bana (peacemaker). Through exploring the layers of meaning embedded within this story, links will be made with contemporary Indigenous research that promotes narratives of Indigenous survival, resistance, protection, and self-determination. From this, a series of principles will be revealed to contribute to a more meaningful engagement with Indigenous Storytelling, and the implications from these principles will be discussed as to the of developing self-reflexivity within Indigenous education.